Summerstreets


I have a super girly pink bike.

She's my fourth since I began two-wheeling my way around the NYC streets from place to place. The other three were rust-covered creatures, so grungy that, when the frame of my first was bent in half by some feeling-deficient truck driver in front of the 42d Street Library, the dudes at the bike shop gave me another one for free. I was once the Fagin of unadoptable orphaned bike frames. I loved (but never polished) them, and rode them hard through midtown traffic, finding meditative bliss in the stiletto focus required to not die on my way to work, or not kill on the way to yoga. My second bike was stripped of usable parts while I processed other peoples' words; my third vaporized from a midtown bike rack.

Now I have a bike that taunts thieves with her insouciant style and all-over... pinkness. I envision myself riding down the street in a pretty sundress, with a straw basket full of fresh manuscript pages, and maybe some photogenic fruit. The reality is me, hastily dressed, a scalding cup of coffee precariously balanced in the basket, streaking down the avenue, executing sidekicks at drivers and oblivious tourists backing into the bike lane for a pseudo-iconic selfie -- on my bike, I go full New York.

It feels so good.

For the past three Saturdays, my sidekick and I (we take turns playing sidekick) have gotten up early to meet on Park Avenue for NYC Summerstreets. It only took me three or four summers to make it over there. For three August Saturdays, NYC closes Park Avenue from the Brooklyn Bridge to 72d Street, blocking off most of the cross streets, giving runners, bikers, boarders, and assorted bipeds a seven mile stretch of auto-free spaaaaaaaaace, open road, including my favorite bit: up and around Grand Central Terminal, best building in the City. I won't say there's no road rage. Some runners think they're too fast for the foot lane and make me think familiar evil thoughts as I cut around them too closely. It wouldn't be a wheeled activity if I weren't thinking about running over someone; that's part of the fun. And, frankly, I'm not the most confident biker, especially when riding with someone else. I set my seat low so I can use my feet Flintstone-style; I have trouble following a straight line. But cruising down one of Park's hills on a sunny Saturday morning, is 100% grin-inducing.

A fine New York moment. Highly recommended. Thank you, NYC.

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© 2015 Leslie Nipkow